I am in a big dilemma :\
I currently have a decent computer with a lack of RAM. It is only 256MB which is swapping a bit too much, especially considering how sensitive I've become to hearing that dreadful sound of disk scratching. I can't stand this anymore. It feels like being choked every time I want to do something that requires more than a few firefox tabs or a couple of konqueror windows and whatnot. I am *always* in a swap.
But to get more memory for this machine is out of the question. It is old DDR memory which is deliberately overpriced, but DDR2 memory is not supported on my motherboard. So I had this plan on replacing the core components only (motherboard, CPU and memory) plus a new case. All good, the CPU would be quite decent and memory would be 512 DDR. It doesn't end up too expensive.
I wouldn't have a dilemma if the story would end there though. In the middle of June I am going to an iCommons conference in Dubrovnik here in Croatia. It is for two days. Can I show up there without a laptop?
This is really the biggest reason why I now have to consider a laptop, which puts the above plan in doubt. The biggest problem is that laptop is at least twice as expensive as above desktop upgrades, and yet the only real reason for it is this iCommons conference, these two days.
So, here are the options I have, and about which I am having a hard time making a proper decision. The first option is to go for a decent laptop and give up on the desktop upgrades. I would use this laptop as my desktop then, plugging it to my speakers, keyboard, mouse and LCD at home. But this brings a few questions:
- Can laptop really stand being worked on most if not all of the day, as my desktop does? The only time I envision turning it off would be when I'm a sleep. Are laptops fit for being constantly and intensively powered on and worked on?
- What about heat? Laptops don't get cooled the same way and as easily as desktops. If I work with it so much as above, would heat be an issue?
- An internet connection problem at home (where I am still most of the time); there is no wifi in this area (heck not even ADSL). I use an EDGE USB modem plus a satellite download over a PCI DVB card. The latter obviously can't fit into a laptop so I would have to use an old computer as an internet router and setup connection sharing between it and my laptop. This immediately removes the benefit of mobility when at home, unless and until I can set up some sort of a wireless LAN system to cover my home area. Also, it seems that some things don't work too well over shared connection. For example, my sisters can't listen to internet radio over XMMS. I don't know why.
So considering these issues, is it worth it for me to replace my desktop with a laptop?
Second option is to buy a really low end laptop as cheap as I can get it (and then do the desktop upgrade as above), just to have something to carry around the few times I go away somewhere (right now I only plan on going to Ubuntu Conference in Zagreb, iCommons in Dubrovnik and FOSDEM next year). The problem with that is simply that even low end laptops do end up quite pricy. I can't get anything decent below $300. I feel bad paying $300 for something I'd use so little and something that's basically already getting obsolete.
The third option is not to buy a laptop (and do a desktop upgrade), but to buy a PDA instead, something that would last. Funny as it may be, this is where OpenMoko Neo1973 presents a dilemma. It doesn't support wifi right now and the Phase 1 model which is going to be sold in time for June is aimed at developers and wont be the full mass market ready model which will be sold in September this year. It's price is $350, but I would basically get only a smartphone with basic phone functions (something I already have with my mobile) plus an awesome bit of tinkering capability. You know.. I can even live with that if it only had wifi support. Without wifi support I can't use it connect online when I go to iCommons.
They say that "early adopters" who buy this preliminary version of Neo1973 will probably get discounts if they decide to buy again the mass market version later. I can even live with that. Besides, I've just launched a site about this sort of mobile devices (mobiliberty.com). I do feel good supporting the project financially. BUT without wifi.. this doesn't resolve my iCommons problem right now. And that's setting me off..
Alternatively I could get some other PDA like Sharp Zaurus or maybe Nokia N70 if not too expensive (didn't find it on the web in Croatia yet) and use that until I buy OpenMoko by the end of the year.
Anyway... if you've read me this far thank you! If you've got any thoughts feel free to share. Maybe you've been in similar dilemmas yourself?